Lily Cummings Photography Brooklyn, New York

Lily Cummings Photography
Brooklyn, New York

I was watching a TED Talk on YouTube the other day by one of my favorite spiritual thought leaders, Gabrielle Bernstein. I love Gabby and her work, and her teachings have dramatically shifted my thoughts (and life) for the better. She gave a powerful talk on self love and compassion. I found it beautifully inspiring and uplifting as did thousands of other people who posted kind comments below her video.

But there were also some comments that were anything but kind. I found them rude, offensive and downright mean. It got me thinking, “Why would someone go out of their way to post something so nasty online in a public forum, especially on a video that is about love and living the life of your dreams? These people don’t even know Gabby, and they are bashing her!”

I thought to myself, “At least Gabby has the courage to put herself out there and help others!” I found myself getting angry and personally offended, like how dare these bullies all safe behind their computers at home talk smack about someone trying to serve others in a positive way. It made no sense to me. Then I realized that the negative comments and hatred had nothing to do with Gabby, and everything to do with the person posting them. What you say about another has a lot more to do with you than the other person. Unlike Gabby, these people are clearly not loving themselves and living the life of their dreams.

It reminded me of the NBA playoffs several years ago when the Los Angeles Lakers were taking on the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly. Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, was being heckled and harassed by fans like I have never seen before–in his hometown nonetheless! He was being boo’ed so loudly you couldn’t even hear the announcers. I was nervous for him, this was a huge game, and not only was there very little support, there was such a negative commotion all around him.

Kobe went on to play one of the best games of his career, knocking down six three-pointers in a row, teaching a clinic to players and fans alike that night. The negativity seemed to fuel him, and he would smile and laugh every time he knocked down another heroic shot despite the boos. I’ll never forget that performance, because it taught me such a great lesson: Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA, wasn’t even remotely concerned with the opinions of those in the stands. They didn’t affect his performance at all.

Kobe was only concerned with the other players on the court who were actually talented (and courageous) enough to be there.

If you’re brave enough to put yourself out there and be vulnerable, whether it’s as a public figure giving a speech, writing a blog, playing in a big game, giving a presentation, hosting a TV show, having a difficult conversation, you name it, and someone who doesn’t have the courage to do what you’re doing says something nasty about you or your work, just remember this:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

I applaud you for daring greatly, taking risks and having the courage to be yourself. Your actions speak louder than any critical comment ever could. Cheers!